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Full text of "Virginia Wildlife"

AUGUST 2009 



FOUR DOLLARS 





Bob Duncan 



t's August; it must be hot. 
But you can use these 
days to your advantage and 
get well prepared for the 
coming hunting season. 
This is the time to touch 
base with our agency — to 
call or visit your regional office and 
speak with staff about conditions in 
the local landscape. We have news to 
share about quail habitat, about scor- 
ing deer heads, about new regula- 
tions, and more. 

The end of summer also makes a 
great time to engage in some pre-sea- 
son scouting at your local hunt club. 
Trail clearing is key, as is checking the 
integrity of tree stands and ladders. 
And planted, dove fields need to be 
made ready ahead of the early Sep- 
tember season opener. 

If you duck hunt from a blind, 
you'll want to be sure your permit is 
up-to-date and perform a mainte- 
nance check on your trailer and john- 
boat. After all, early Canada goose and 
teal seasons are right around the cor- 
ner. Sight in your muzzleloader, visit 
that shooting range, take aim at some 
sporting clays. . . Need I say more? 

Remember, if you hunt migratory 
game birds, you must first register 
with the Harvest Information 
Program (HIP). That toll-free number 
is 1-888-788-9772. 




For the rest of the hunters 
among you, ifs time to get 
mentally 'psyched' by at- 
tending one of the sports- 
men events held across the 
state. Our staff participate 
in many of these and, as 
usual, the Department will be 
well represented at the Virginia Out- 
door Sportsman Show in Richmond, 
August 7-9. 

How about using these lazy af- 
ternoons to do your homework? 
New regulations are out and some 
important changes need your atten- 
tion. Also, you will note the addition 
of a youth deer hunt, scheduled for 
Saturday, September 26th, and ex- 
panded opportunities to hunt either- 
sex deer in a number of counties 
across Virginia. While reading, ex- 
plore the hunting opportunities 
available on public lands: our wildlife 
management areas, designated 
Virginia state parks and state forests, 
military bases, federal wildlife 
refuges, and more. 

And if you've not yet done so, 
now is the time to throw your name 
into the lottery 'hat' for one of the De- 
partment's quota hunts. I'm excited 
to tell you we've expanded the num- 
ber of days in several locations. 

Remember, safety first, and 
Good Hunting! 






Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; 
To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the 
rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and prop- 
erty in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of 
and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginias Wildlife and Natural Resources 



Commonwealth of Virginia 
Timothy M. Kaine, Governor 



HUNTING & FISHING 

LICENSE FEES 

Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

L. Preston Bryant, Jr. 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 



Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtland 
Thomas A. Stroup, Fairfax 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 



Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 

Emily Pels, Art Director 

Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 

Louis Verner, Staff Contributor 



Color separations and printing by- 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 
Design by IM Creative Solutions 



VOLUME 70 



NUMBER 



Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published month 
ly by the Virginia Department of Game and Inlam 
Fisheries. Send all subscription orders and addres 
changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, Red Oal 
Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other communication 
concerning this publication to Virginia Wildlife, P. C 
Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmonc 
Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rates are $12.95 to 
one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.00 per each bac 
issue, subject to availability. Out-of-country rate i 
$24.95 for one year and must be paid in U.S. fund^ 
No refunds for amounts less than $5.00. To sub 
scribe, call toll-free (800) 710-9369. Postmastei 
Please send all address changes to Virginia Wtldlift 
P.O. Box 7477, Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Postage fo 
periodicals paid at Richmond, Virginia and addition 
al entry offices. 

Copyright 2009 by the Virginia Department of Gam 
and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries sha 
afford to all persons an equal access to Deparrmei 
programs and facilities without regard to race, colo 
religion, national origin, disability, sex, or age. It yo 1 
believe that you have been discriminated against i 
any program, activity or facility, please write k 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisherie 
ATTN; Compliance Officer, (4010 West Broad Street 
P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general information 
al purposes only and every effort has been made t> 
ensure its accuracy. The information contained herei 
does not serve as a legal representation of fish an. 
wildlife laws or regulations. The Virginia Departmen 
of Game and Inland Fisheries does not assum 
responsibility for any change in dates, regulations, o 
information that may occur after publication." 



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Mixed Sources 



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AUG 



CONTENTS 




About the cover: 

In the shadow of 
Richmond's down- 
town skyline, the 
James River offers 
anglers an amazing 
bounty, and 
variety, offish. 
See related story on 
page 4. 
©Dwight Dyke 



T 7 TRGINIA 

V WILDLIFE 

Magazine 
Subscriptions 

For subscriptions, 

circulation problems 

and address changes 

call: 

1-800-710-9369 
12 issues for $12.95 
24 issues for $23.95 








4 A River for All Seasons 
byTeeClarkson 
One angler rediscovers the excitement of 
Richmond's urban James. 

8 Dusting Clay at N.A.S. Oceana 
by Beth Hester 
Attention hunters — tune up your 
wingshooting skills here. 

Night Fishing for Bass 
■ by Gerald Almy 
Some fish save their best moves 
for after dark. 

Changing Landscapes, 

Changing Lives 

by Louis Verner 
Volunteer Master Naturalists take to 
community projects across the state. 



20 



Motts Runs Monster Pike 

by Marc N. McGlade 



This lake in Spotsylvania will deliver 
more than largemouths. 

M Be Wild! Live Wild! 
Grow Wild! 

by Spike Knuth 
Amazing Journeys 



Afield and Afloat 

Off the Leash 
ull Journal 

On The Water 
uu Photo Tips 
iW Dinineln 




©Dwight Dyke 



byTeeClarkson 

To refer to my twenties as no- 
madic would be an under- 
statement. Over the course of 
a decade, I lived in Georgia, Utah, 
Chile, Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, 
Oregon, and Georgia again. Then six 
years ago, a month before turning 30, 
I found myself packing my stuff for 
yet another move. This time I was 
coming home, back to Richmond 
where I grew up. I must admit to my 
skepticism. I had left a lot of great wa- 
ters behind, and I wondered where I 
would focus my fishing upon return- 
ing to Virginia. What I came to dis- 
cover was that, somewhere along the 



way, I had forgotten one of the great- 
est waters of my angling life, the 
James River. 

When I returned I re-discovered 
the home water of my youth, a place 
where I cut my teeth on smallmouth 
bass, catfish, and bluegill. I am in- 
clined now to say that re-discovering 
a place, especially a river, is better 
than discovering it for the first time. 
Perhaps it is the added sense of nos- 
talgia fishing the waters I once 
waded with my buddies after school, 
or floating the stretches I once floated 
with my family as a youngster. I will 
never forget one trip, the image of my 
younger brothers and my mother, 
their canoe wedged between two 
rocks, my mother's arms folded, her 



eyes staring downstream in disgust 
at me and my father as we continued 
to cast — at least, I did. My father was 
quick to jump out of the boat and 
wade back upstream to free my 
steaming mother and two screaming 
little brothers. I can understand that 
moment so much better now with 
two small children of my own. 

Now I am more inclined to escape 
to the James for an hour or two when 
the kids are napping and my wife is 
kind enough to let me get away. I 
never cease to be amazed by how 
many fish, and the variety of them, the 
James River offers anglers in the shad- 
ow of Richmond's downtown sky- 
line. Sure there are urban rivers with 
better smallmouth bass fishing or 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 






with giant trout or the possibility for a 
steelhead or salmon, but there are few 
with the diversity and quantity of 
species the James holds, that offer 
such a balanced year-round fishery. 

Spring on the James 

If you enjoy something tugging on 
the other end of the line, it's hard to 
beat spring on the James River. Begin- 
ning somewhere around the middle 
of March, American and hickory 
shad begin showing up around the 
fall line in Richmond. These migrat- 
ing fish offer consistent light tackle 
action for fly-rodders and spin fisher- 
men alike until the beginning of May, 
with peak action usually during the 
middle of April. Not to be overlooked 
during this period are the white 



The James is considered a top urban 
fishery and angling destination east of 
the Mississippi. 



)Dwight Dyke 




perch. They move up the river to 
spawn, as well, and can be a ton of 
fun on light spinning tackle. It is not 
uncommon to find holes loaded with 
shad and white perch during this 
time of year when anglers can make 
dozens of casts in a row, each yield- 
ing a fish of some kind. 

Many fishermen launch small 
boats at Ancarrow's Landing just 
below the city on the south shore of 
the river and head upstream, but an- 
glers can find some luck for them- 
selves from the bank with a little ex- 
ploration. Fishing for blue catfish and 
striped bass can be quite good this 
time of year. 

Summer on the James 

The beginning of summer fishing on 
the James (May and early June) is my 



favorite time of year to be on the 
water. Toward the end of the shad 
run, the herring begin showing up, 
and about the same time the striped 
bass appear. While anglers may find 
stripers in the river in smaller num- 
bers and sizes throughout the year, 
the big boys and girls are only 
around in decent numbers for a short 
period of time in the late spring and 
early summer. These bigger fish (5 to 
20 lbs., for the most part) stack up 
consistently just below and just 
above the fall line. Early morning and 
late evening provide an angler 
throwing bigger plugs the best op- 
portunity for a real bruiser. As with 
the shad, stripers may be pursued by 
launching a boat at Ancarrow's, but 
adventurous fishermen locate them 
just as easily from the bank. 



Later in the summer, as the water 
levels retreat and temperatures 
climb, the smallmouth bass and sun- 
fish of all types get extremely active. 
While the average-sized smallmouth 
in and around Richmond is not large 
(10 inches or so) there are plenty out 
there, and it is not uncommon to 
catch fish in the 14 to 18 inch range. 
All the typical smallmouth baits 
work well, from flukes to tiny torpe- 
does, but small grubs on light tackle 
are hard to beat for consistent action. 

Summer is also a great time to pur- 
sue catfish in and around the city. As 
the water level drops, obvious deeper 
holes appear in the river. Almost all of 
these holes hold flathead, channel, 
and blue catfish. Live bluegill and 
goldfish are the baits of choice, 
especially for flatheads, this time of 



©Dwight Dyke 



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year as the fish are aggressively feed- 
ing, but other catfish baits will certain- 
ly work for the channels and blues. 

Fall on the James 

As summer fades to fall, the fishing 
typically remains good for small- 
mouth bass, sunfish, and flathead 
catfish up until it is too cold to wade 
in a pair of shorts and river shoes. 
This is a great time to be out, as river 
traffic lessens with school back in ses- 
sion and other weekend activities in- 
crease. While numbers tend to taper 
off for the smallmouth, this is a great 
time to catch bigger fish working 
larger baits. 

Winter on the James 

While the days of wading the river 
must ultimately come to an end, it 
doesn't mean the fishing stops. The 
colder months are some of the best 
for those looking to tangle with a real 
trophy blue cat. These giant bottom 
feeders are most active during the 
day in the wintertime. Anglers ac- 
cessing the river at Ancarrow's don't 
have far to go before they can expect 
some action from blue cats, and while 
it is not exactly inside the city limits, 
Dutch Gap — a handful of miles 




From 5-lb. smallmouth bass to 100-lb. blue catfish, the James River offers 
spectacular fishing for everyone. 



downstream — offers a chance at a 
real trophy cat up to 100 pounds, 
with plenty of fish in the 30- to 50Tb. 
range. Then, before there is time to 
blink... it is spring and the cycle be- 
gins again. 

The James is an incredible re- 



Successful anglers match their lures to the food source: in this case, minnows 
and crayfish. 




source for both young and old, not 
just for fishing but for enjoying all 
that nature has to offer. It is not un- 
common to see an osprey pull a giz- 
zard shad from the shallows or a blue 
heron yank a herring from a pool. 
Even bald eagles are a common sight 
within the city limits, and watching 
one dive down into the river, talons 
first, is often more exciting than 
catching a fish yourself . □ 

Tee Clarkson is an English teacher at 
Deep) Run High School in Henrico Co. 
and runs a fishing camp for kids: 
tSLiarkson@virginiafisIiiiigadventures.com. 



For infonnation on accessing 
the James River in Richmond 
checkout: 

DGIF Web site: 

♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 

James River Park System: 

♦ www.jamesriverparkorg 

♦ Fishing the Falls of the 
James-.Your Guide to the River 
in Richmond, by Ralph R 
White, 2009. 



AUGUST 2009 



:/# 1 








c?#&fes^:. • . . 






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Revitalized Trap and Skeet 
Range Continues Tradition of 
Promoting Shooting Sports 



*». — z~/4f&: 



©Beth Hester 



by Beth Hester 

"There are scientific aspects to wing- 
shooting: effective loads, proper barrel 
and stock work, chokes, and other invalu- 
able aids that play a large role in shooting 
success. But watching a master wing- 
shooter crumple multiple aerial targets 
with a consistent combination of fluid 
grace and blazing speed is true artistn/. " 

Chris Christian, author, and 
former AA Class Skeet Shooter 



Set your sights on Virginia 
Beach. Head east on Highway 
264, turn right onto Lynnhaven 
Parkway, and hang a left onto Potters 
Road. Roll past a guard shack, and 
down a winding, gravel-edged road, 
where a sign welcomes you to the 
N. A.S. Oceana Trap and Skeet Range, 
a rural oasis of sorts that seems light- 
years away from the strip malls, fast- 
food restaurants, and traffic snarls so 
endemic to parts of Hampton Roads. 
If it weren't for the telltale roar of the 
occasional fighter jet cruising smartly 
overhead, silhouetted against the 
sun, you'd think you were out in the 
countryside at a local Ruritan club or 
Isaac Walton League facility. 



Oceana is a shotgun sports hub, 
a clay target Shangri-la. It's also 
a base for the U.S. Navy skeet team, 
Boy Scout and 4-H shooting clubs, 
and a variety of local trap and 
skeet organizations. 

Sharing real estate with the larger 
Naval Air Station complex, the 
range carries on a tradition of public 
service. The Naval Air Station, or 
N.A.S. as it's called, began in 1940, 
when the U.S. government pur- 
chased a little over 328 acres of 
swampy, mosquito infested land 
that just happened to be strategically 
positioned along the East Coast of 
the mid-Atlantic, and ideally suited 
for a small airfield. 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




This 5-stand platform is just one of several shooting options available. Left: Sgt. Brad Sanders hones his skilb at the range. 



Today, close to 70 years later, 
N.A.S. Oceana boasts over seven 
miles of runway and is home to some 
of the world's most sophisticated 
naval aircraft. 

The trap and skeet range opened 
in 1962, and there have been many 
changes over the ensuing years. A 
new clubhouse was built in 2000, and 
shortly thereafter, the range was 
closed for a time after the Depart- 
ment of Homeland Security mandat- 
ed construction of a new fence, 
which, when the dust settled, ended 
up encroaching upon three of the 
range's original fields. Thanks to the 
goodwill and foresight of Oceana's 
commanding officer, and the Morale, 
Welfare and Recreation Department, 
the trap and skeet range was re- 
opened, revitalized, and yearly 'club' 
memberships were made available to 
the public. 

To date, the membership initiative 
has been a huge success, and the 
large, black barbeque smoker sitting 



AUGUST 2009 



just outside on the clubhouse lawn is 
a very auspicious sign- The reputa- 
tion of Oceana has spread to the point 
where tourists visiting Virginia Beach 
have started showing up to shoot a 
few rounds. 

"We feel like we're contributing 
something very positive to our com- 
munity," said current range manager 
George 'Chip' Rowland. "These are 
outstanding facilities, really extraor- 
dinary for such a large, urban area. 
We're family-friendly, and a shooter 



doesn't have to belong to an organ- 
ized group to come out and have a 
lot of fun. Civilian and military 
shooters alike can meet at the front 
desk, and buddy-up on the skeet or 
trap ranges." 

Oil this particular Wednesday af- 
ternoon, Marine Sgt. Brad Sanders 
and Allen Shroedel of the Navy met 
for the first time as they signed the 
register at the clubhouse counter. 
Heading out to their range assign- 




ment and passing through the 
parking lot, they stopped to chat with 
Joe Whitley of Portsmouth, who 
when asked about his background, 
leaned back against the tailgate of the 
pickup truck, grinned, and replied: 
"Well. . . I guess I'm just an old shoot- 
er." All three chuckled, and agreed 
that the easy camaraderie is part of 
what makes the Oceana experience 
so enjoyable. 

Clay target shooting began as a 
method of helping hunters tune-up 
their wingshooting skills. The behav- 
ior of the clay birds as they fly across 
the horizon, or bounce along the 
ground, simulate a variety of field 
shooting situations, mimicking the 
types of shots offered by duck, 
quail, pheasant, rabbit, and other 
small game. 

Oceana features a variety of op- 
tions: two Trap houses, Wobble Trap, 
5-Stand, and three Skeet fields. And, 
if everything goes as expected, there 




The clubhouse welcomes all comers, and features a handicap-accessible ramp. 



are plans to put in an archery facility, 
as well as a muzzleloading area. Indi- 
viduals interested in learning more 
about various shotgun disciplines 
can visit Oceana and connect with 
seasoned mentors like veteran shoot- 
er and coach John Daubenschmidt, 
who will graciously and enthusiasti- 




Recreation assistant Tina Ballance loads one of the trap houses. 



cally get them started off on the right 
foot. Shotgun sports are addictive, 
and it's important for new shooters to 
build a firm foundation. 

One current shotgun addict is Old 
Dominion University student Tina 
Ballance, one of Oceana's recreation 
assistants. Tina became hooked on 
shotgun sports after visiting the 
range with her father. She loves the 
instant gratification that comes from 
proper form and follow-through: "I 
just love watching that orange target 
break apart, see the dust fly, and 
know that it was because I did every- 
thing right!" 

Over the years, Oceana has be- 
come a breeding ground for new 
shooting talent. Bringing up the next 
wave of shooters is no small responsi- 
bility, and no tour would be complete 
without highlighting the achieve- 
ments of one of the many youth-ori- 
ented shooting organizations that 
practice there on a regular basis. 

Steve Kobiela is a shotgun instruc- 
tor for the 4-H Swamp Shooters, a 
youth clay sports team based in 
Wakefield, whose logo is a mosquito 
with a big bull's-eye target overlay. 
The team's advanced youth shotgun- 
ners practice regularly at Oceana. 
"Oceana offers everything my shot- 
gun shooters need," Steve said. 
"They have everything but sporting 
clays, yet most of the targets in sport- 
ing clays can be encountered in other 
games. We shoot there almost every 
Saturday." 

During his tenure as instructor, 
several of his team members have 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




4 



Range manager Chip Rowland assists Michael Cole at a 5-stand station. 



ranked highly in the National 
Scholastic Clay Target Program; an- 
other young member went from 
novice, to champion skeet team mem- 
ber all in her first year. This success is 
remarkable given the fact that this is 
only the Swamp Shooters' second 
year as a new 4-H education club. 

Steve continues, "As a 4-H club, 
our priority is to teach life skills, and 
through the shooting sports, these 
lessons are being absorbed by the 
youngsters. They may think they're 
simply learning to shoot safely and 
well . . . but in reality, they are picking 
up such essential skills as personal re- 
sponsibility, how to deal with disap- 
pointment, personal safety, team- 
work, conflict resolution, and service 
to others. Good role models are im- 
portant, and Oceana Trap and Skeet 
gives kids the opportunity to learn 
from John Daubenschmidt who 
gives so freely of his time and talent. 
You can't find a better youth coach in 
our area." 

At 16 years of age, Steve's son 
Christopher is already a shooting vet- 
eran and is a member of the Swamp 
Shooters. He is also a hunter, and ex- 



plains how the shooting sports have 
contributed to his success in the field. 
"All of my 4-H leaders hunt, and 
they've taught me how to hunt safely 
and ethically. The clay target sports 
have taught me how to judge the lead 
required for birds based on their 
range, angle, and speeds. I also feel 
that I've grown as a person because 
of the confidence my shooting coach- 
es have instilled in me." 

Oceana Trap and Skeet Range is 
indeed an exceptional place. Shooters 
old and new can pull into the parking 
lot, sign in, get a range assignment, 
and enjoy an afternoon or evening 
filled with fun, fellowship, and the 
opportunity to learn from the excel- 
lent instructors who call Oceana 
home. The aerial acrobatics of the 
fighter jets as they speed overhead is 
simply part of the tradition. 

Now ... if they'd just put in a tiki 
hutnexttothebarbeque... □ 

Beth Hester is a writer and freelance photogra- 
pher. When not hunched over iter laptop, she 
pursues other passions: reading, shooting, 
kayaking, fishing, tying saltwater flies, and 
tending her herb garden. She lives in 
Portsmouth. 



Additional Resources 

Oceana Trap and Skeet Range 

Virginia Beach 

Hours of Operation 

Wednesday: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm 

Thursday-Sunday: 

10:00 am-8:00pm 

Phone: 757-433-2875 

The Gun Digest Book of Trap 

and Skeet Shooting 

Chris Christian 

ISBN:0-87349-163-7 

DBI Books (A Krause imprint) 

1-800-258-0929 

Shotguns for Wingshooting 
John Barsness 
ISBN: 0-87342-671-6 
Krause Publications 
1-800-258-0929 

Shotgunning: The Art and Science 

Bob Brister 

ISBN: 0-8329-1840-7 

Winchester Press / New Win 

Publishing 

Can be special ordered from 

your favorite book dealer 



AUGUST 2009 



I 1 



Every lure that works for day fishing 
can also score at night. 



Night Fishing for Bass 

For a unique experience, try casting after the sun goes down. 




by Gerald Almy 

As my rod bucked to the 
weight of yet another lung- 
ing bass wallowing in the 
blackness, I couldn't believe my luck. 
A friend and I had been fishing just 
over an hour since sundown and we 
had already landed and released 
over a dozen chunky largemouths. 

Some of the fish topped five 
pounds and several had nailed top- 
water lures with a resounding 
whoosh, making this one of the most 




spectacular bass fishing outings I'd 
ever enjoyed. It was also my first 
night fishing experience ever. Action 
on post-sunset outings since then 
hasn't always matched that frenetic 
introductory session. But going after 
bass after dark has provided some of 
my best bass fishing experiences of 
the season every year since, for over 
four decades. 

It's easy to see why. Bass, especial- 
ly during warm spring and summer 
months, simply bite better after the 
sun goes down. On top of that, some 
of the biggest fish become more ag- 



gressive in the dark. There's no need 
to worry about pleasure boaters dis- 
turbing your favorite spot at night or 
cutthroat competition for prime 
honey holes. 

Need more reasons? Well, you 
don't have to worry about sunburn, 
skin cancer, UV damage or cataracts. 
It's also peaceful and quiet at night 
and cooler without a harsh summer 
sun bearing down. Winds are often 
less troublesome for boat handling 
as well. 

The main reason to night fish for 
Virginia's bass, though, is simply the 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



uniqueness of the experience. There's 
nothing quite like it. Vision recedes as 
your predominant sense, while sound 
and touch come to the forefront. 

You'll feel your grub crawling 
over each rock or brush pile like 
never before when you fish at night. 
Vibrations from a wobbling spoon or 
shimmying crankbait seem to pulse 
right through your hands into your 
body. The tap-tap of a striking bass 
grabbing a worm and hook set seem 
more intense than they ever do under 
a bright sun. 

Sounds permeate the night. The 
hopeful song of a whippoorwill, a 
hooting owl, chirping crickets, and 
bellowing frogs are just a few of the 
sounds you'll notice more at night 
than during daylight hours. The 
rhythmic gurgling of a wobbling Jit- 
terbug is a song in itself, interrupted 
with another sweet sound when an 
outsized bass grabs the gurgling sur- 
face plug with a whoosh. 

Nighttime Conditions 

Almost all Virginia lakes and slow- 
moving rivers offer good night fish- 
ing prospects. Small lakes and ponds 
that you can fish from shore are also a 
good bet. To get the most out of night 




Virginia lakes — Anna, Smith Mountain, and Gaston- 
at night. 



-offer good striper fishing 




Plastic worms make terrific night lures. Use the larger ones after dark to get the 
fish's attention. 



bass fishing, though, special prepara- 
tions are required. You need to pick 
the right bodies of water, the most ef- 
fective lures, proper tackle, and the 
best retrieves. 

Safety also requires special atten- 
tion. Move carefully and use a flash- 
light when shore fishing to avoid ob- 
jects that could trip or injure you. 

Always wear a personal floatation 
device when fishing from a boat. The 
best idea is to launch close to the area 
you plan to fish so you won't have to 
do any high-speed traveling. Also, 
select waters you're familiar with 
when planning a night trip. You need 
to know where basic structures are 
such as points, humps, islands, river 
channels, and bridges. Go slowly 
when motoring between spots and 
keep the running lights on. Pick wa- 
ters with few obstructions, such as 
timber or floating debris. Use a spot- 
light to check ahead for dangers as 
you navigate. Certainly you'll want 



AUGUST 2009 



13 



your map and sonar, but past day- 
time experience about the area is 
also vital. 

When fishing from a boat, keep 
excess gear back in the truck or 
stowed away off the floor. It's easy to 
trip in the dark — and dangerous. Rig 
up two or three outfits that you're fa- 
miliar with and store all but one of 
them out of the way. 

Special lights are available for 
night fishing that give off a soft glow 
unlikely to spook bass. I also wear a 
small clip-on flashlight or headlamp 
for tying on lures. Glowing bobbers 



are even available if you want to fish 
live bait. 

The moon can influence night 
fishing, but I've actually had good 
luck during all moon phases. If 
you're new to the sport, a little bit 
of moonlight' is nice to help keep 
your bearings and see where the 
shoreline is. 

If the moon is bright, concentrate 
on casting to locations in the moon's 
shadow. Bass will wait in ambush 
there, on the dark sides of docks, logs, 
or bridge pilings. 

Avoid fishing on a windy night. It 




A selection of topwater lures will work well on bass at night. 



just complicates the already difficult 
conditions in terms of boat handling 
and casting accuracy and makes sur- 
face fishing less productive. 

Try to be on the lake at least 30 min- 
utes before sunset. This allows you to 
get your gear ready, launch the boat, 
and arrive at the area you want to fish 
before total darkness sets in. Your eyes 
will dilate slowly as daylight fades, al- 
lowing you to see as well as possible 
after all sunlight is gone. 

It's not unusual for fishing to be 
slow for about an hour after the sun 
first sets. The fish have likely fed just 
before the light vanished. 

They'll usually begin foraging 
again, though, within an hour or so 
after dark. That action may then con- 
tinue more or less all night, or it may 
come in flurries, growing spotty for a 
while, then resuming around 10 or 
11 p.m. 

There's typically a lull after about 
1 a.m. If you have to work, this is a 
good time to call it quits. If you per- 
sist, though, action will often be de- 
cent during the night and exceptional 
right before first light emerges again. 

The best places to fish at night are 
basically the same places you fish 
during the day. Points are excellent, 
as are fallen logs, brush piles, weed 
bed edges, dropoffs and humps. 
Bridges are hotspots at night, as is the 
riprap along roads. 

Docks are prime spots, especially 
on lakes such as Smith Mountain and 
Anna. If the docks have lights, fish 
the dark side of the pilings and deck. 
That's where the bass will wait for 
unwary baitfish to swim past. 
Sometimes at night you'll also catch 
bass in unlikely spots, such as swim- 
ming beaches or boat ramps, since 
they're not being disturbed by 
human activity. 

Every lure that works for day fish- 
ing can also score at night. Some es- 
pecially useful ones for docks and 
deep structures are plastic worms, 
crankbaits, jigs, grubs and vibrators 
(lipless crankbaits). For medium and 
shallow depths, go with spinner 
baits, vibrators, thin minnow lures, 
and top-water offerings such as 
chuggers, wobblers, and poppers. 

Crankbaits are good lures because 
they displace lots of water and create 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




Texas-rigged plastic worms are very 
effective. 



loud vibrations to attract the fish by 
sound when vision is less useful for 
them. Use models that dive the ap- 
propriate depth for the water you're 
fishing and lean toward those with 
rattles inside, so the bass can pinpoint 
them easily. Reel these back with a 
slow to moderate retrieve, punctuat- 
ed with an occasional pause. 

Spinnerbaits are excellent night 
lures. A 3 /s- to ^-ounce model with 
one or two wide Colorado blades is a 
good choice, since it creates a loud, 
thumping vibration that fish can easi- 
ly detect. Try these lures by them- 
selves if the water is clear or with a 
plastic trailer or pork rind dressing if 
the water is slightly murky or stained. 

Use a slow, steady presentation 
most of the time, but also occasional- 
ly V-wake the lure fast just under the 
surface. This is especially useful dur- 
ing the doldrums of summer. If these 
tactics don't produce, try "yo-yo-ing" 
the lure by yanking it up fast several 
feet, then letting it drop back down. 

Plastic worms seem like an odd 
choice for night fishing, but they are 
surprisingly effective. Use big ones 
from 7 to 9 inches for night fishing, so 
they create lots of vibration and are 
easy for bass to locate. 

The Texas rigging method is best if 
snags are a problem. If the lake 
bottom is clean, though, you'll 
hook more fish with worms rigged 
with multiple hooks. Fish them Car- 
olina-style, 18-36 inches behind a 
barrel sinker. 

Besides worms, stock a few jigs of 
l A to 3 A ounce and tip them with a 

AUGUST 2009 



plastic trailer or, better still, a pork 
rind dressing. That latter combina- 
tion displaces lots of water and is a 
great offering for night bass. 

Top-water fishing is my favorite 
way to go after largemouths — day or 
night. After dark, I turn to stickbaits 
and poppers at times, but it's hard to 
beat the tried-and-proven Jitterbug. 
Use Ys- or ys-ounce versions for most 
of your fishing. 

If you think especially large bass 
might be roaming, go with the l l A- 
ounce model. When fishing that large 
lure, attach the two side treble hooks 



together on the top with a small rub- 
ber band to allow you to probe weeds 
and brush more effectively without 
getting constantly hung up. 

Whether you choose a worm, 
spinnerbait, jig or top-water plug, 
though, hold on tight after you make 
your first nighttime cast. The biggest 
bass of all are on the prowl after dark, 
and they'd just love to pull that rod 
right out of your hands! 

Gerald Almy is a full-time outdoor zoriter and 
photographer and has been a regidar contributor 
to Virginia Wildlife for over 20 years. 




The author uses a classic Jitterbug to land a hefty 5-lb. bass from a pond. 



15 




Changing Landscapes, 
Changing lives 




Carol Heiser 



During lean times like these, 
it's always encouraging to 
read about success stories, 
especially when success isn't meas- 
ured by the thickness of someone's 
wallet. The success of the Virginia 
Master Naturalist Program can be 
measured by the positive impact it 
has had on Virginia's citizenry, its 
public lands, and its natural re- 
sources. If you haven't yet heard 
about the program, this is a story 
you'll want to read. 

The Virginia Master Naturalist 
Program is a statewide, volunteer 
training program that advances nat- 

16 



iniaMas 



ralist Progra, 



Landscapes across the state benefit from volunteer 'muscle' and native plantings. 



ural resource education and conser- 
vation across Virginia. The pro- 
gram's mission is to develop a corps 
of well-informed volunteers provid- 
ing education, outreach, and service 
dedicated to the beneficial manage- 
ment of the natural resources and 



natural areas within their local com- 
munities. Local partnerships, which 
now number more than 150, are a 
cornerstone of the program and in- 
clude other public agencies, as well 
as private organizations involved in 
conservation and education. 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




Master naturalists obtain and identify samples taken from Gills Creek, outside of Rocky Mount. 



The program holds the unique 
distinction of being sponsored jointly 
by five state agencies: Cooperative 
Extension, the Department of Game 
and Inland Fisheries, the Department 
of Conservation and Recreation, the 
Department of Forestry, and the Mu- 
seum of Natural History. Virginia 
Tech's Forestry Department and Col- 
lege of Natural Resources provide 
additional support to program coor- 
dinator Michelle Prysby. 

The Virginia program is patterned 
after the very successful Texas Master 
Naturalist Program, which originat- 
ed in 1997 in San Antonio. There, 
local and state resource managers 
worked collaboratively to design a 
"master naturalist program" that 
would train a supportive base of vol- 
unteers to expand their capacity to 
implement desired programs and 
projects. It was such a good idea that 
it grew to a statewide program in 
1998. By 2003, there were 18 chapters 




Volunteers learn to identify the snails and crayfish collected. 



AUGUST 2009 



17 



and hundreds of Texas Master Natu- 
ralists volunteering their time for the 
betterment of local communities and 
natural resources. The success of the 
Texas program soon gained the atten- 
tion of other states. To assist aspiring 
volunteer naturalists, Texas obtained 
funding for a series of training work- 
shops with the ultimate goal of creat- 
ing a national network of Master Nat- 
uralist programs. 

Attending the first national train- 
ing workshop in 2004 were seven Vir- 
ginia representatives, who became 
known as "Team Virginia," spon- 
sored by Dr. Jeff Kirwan, professor 
and extension specialist in Virginia 
Tech's Department of Forestry and 
Environmental Conservation — who 
had quickly grasped the potential for 
such a program in Virginia. Shortly 
thereafter, Dr. Kirwan, Team Virginia, 
and representatives from the other 
sponsoring agencies met to develop 
the program that was officially 
launched in March, 2006. 




Volunteers learn important building skills during this boardwalk project at Savage 
Neck on the Eastern Shore. Below: Mike Hayslett (R), a leading expert on vernal 
ponds and early pioneer of the program, discusses collected salamander larvae. 




Master Naturalist chapter operates 
somewhat autonomously to serve 
the natural resource needs of its com- 
munity. Volunteers completing a 
chapter's first training elect a slate of 
officers from among willing class- 
mates, who then shoulder the re- 
sponsibility of coordinating their 
chapter's volunteer efforts and or- 
ganizing and running future training 
classes. 

Virginia Master Naturalist train- 
ing consists of a minimum of 40 
hours of classroom and field time 
covering a core set of curriculum ob- 
jectives. The objectives focus on ecol- 



The Virginia Master Naturalist 
Program consists of a network of 25 
chapters across the state, with appli- 
cations currently pending from three 
new areas. At its core, it retains two 
key elements built into that first San 
Antonio program. While state agen- 
cies provide overall sponsorship and 
support, the program is really 
'owned' by the state's entire natural 
resource community. Second, the 
program is essentially self-adminis- 
tered and self-sustaining. Once estab- 
lished with the help of local natural 
resource partners, each chartered 



Get involved! 

Interested in becoming a Master Naturalist, or perhaps starting a chap- 
ter in your area? Many Virginia Master Naturalist chapters are begin- 
ning new classes in September. To find out how you can register, or to 
learn more about the program or the chapter nearest you, visit: 
www.virginiamasternaturalist.org. Once there, you will find links to 
each of the 25 chapters. Many chapters maintain their own Web sites, 
where you can find newsletters, project lists, event calendars, and more. 
A new photo sharing site, virginiamasternaturalist.smugmug.com, 
allows chapters to post pictures of their activities and is open to all. 
Program coordinator Michelle Prysby may be contacted via e-mail at 
masternaturalist@vt.edu. 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



ogy, natural resource management, 
basic natural history of Virginia ani- 
mals and plants, and skills for teach- 
ing and field research. Volunteers 
also complete 8 hours of advanced 
training that provide more special- 
ized skills and knowledge. Certified 
naturalists must complete a mini- 
mum of 40 hours of service. This 
service can be in the form of educa- 
tion (such as leading an interpretive 
program in a state park), citizen sci- 
ence (such as collecting data on 
wildlife populations), or stewardship 
(such as removing invasive plants 
from a natural area). 

Master Naturalist volunteers have 
successfully expanded the capacity 
of Virginia's natural resource agen- 
cies, and the cooperative nature of the 
program provides a mechanism for 
state, local, non-profit, and other 
partners to work together toward the 
common goals of conservation and 
education. The program provides a 
purposeful way for citizens to spend 
time outdoors and on Virginia's pub- 
lic lands. 

Virginia Master Naturalist volun- 
teer efforts have been of significant 
benefit to each of the five sponsoring 
state agencies. Volunteers are assist- 
ing DGIF biologists with Canada 
goose banding, mute swan monitor- 
ing, monitoring of freshwater mussel 
populations, and stewardship proj- 
ects on wildlife management areas. 
Many chapters are engaged in col- 
lecting data for DGIF's WildlifeMap- 
ping Program, with volunteers con- 
tributing hundreds of hours to this 
project in 2008. Numerous volunteers 
have received advanced training in 
the DGIF Habitat Education Program 
and are now expanding the agency's 
ability to develop schoolyard habi- 
tats, provide backyard habitat pre- 
sentations, and assist with wildlife 
habitat restoration projects. This year, 
volunteers from the Old Rag and 
Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes 
chapters have embarked on a pilot 
program to collect species data in 
areas where records are lacking or 
dated. These data will be of critical 
importance to the agency's Wildlife 
Action Plan. 

From providing interpretive pro- 
grams for Cooperative Extension 



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ft '1 


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SB 





Butterfly bush 

youth outreach, to stewardship proj- 
ects on state parks and natural areas 
preserves; from partnering with the 
Museum of Natural History on a 
long-term biological inventory of a 
Martinsville park, to assisting forestry 



staff in a deer exclosure study to de- 
termine the effects of and educate citi- 
zens about deer browsing in Fairfax 
County Parks, the diversity and 
value of Master Naturalist volunteer 
efforts to natural resource agencies 
has been equally impressive. 

For many volunteers, participat- 
ing in the program has been a life- 
changing experience. They've 
learned new skills, made new 
friends, and overcome personal ob- 
stacles (from a fear of snakes to a fear 
of public speaking). They've found 
the perfect venue by which they can 
not only increase their connection to 
and enjoyment of the natural world, 
but share their knowledge and sense 
of wonder and stewardship with 
others. Most importantly, they've 
found the joy that is unique to those 
who give back to their community. 
Together, they are making Virginia a 
better place to live for all of us! □ 

Louis Verner is a biologist with the Depart- 
ment's Watchable Wildlife program and a 
member of the steerifig committee of the Vir- 
ginia Master Naturalist Program. 



Program Highlights 

In less than three years, the Virginia Master Naturalist Program has 
been remarkably successful in fulfilling its mission. The following sta- 
tistical highlights and accomplishments were outlined by program 
coordinator Michelle Prysby in her recent 2008 review: 

• Total Number of Trained Volunteers 910 

• Number of Certified Master Naturalists 315 

• Volunteer Hours: Education 7,116 

• Number of Presentations Given 415 

• Total Number of People Reached through 

Education Programs 18,849 

• Volunteer Hours: Citizen Science 6,155 

• Volunteer Hours: Stewardship 5,254 

• Number of Acres Positively Impacted 2,562 

• Number of Miles of Trails Built / Maintained 222 

• Total Project Hours 18,770 

• Total Volunteer Hours 2006-2008 49,877 

Based on the independent sector's report for Virginia, the monetary 
value of the total volunteer hours 2006-2008 was $1,001,535! 



AUGUST 2009 






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Kill iiiin 

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Motts Ru 

Monster Pi 




©Marc N. McGlade 



Fredericksburg's Motts Run Reservoir 

is full offish— with beautiful scenery to boot. 




by Marc N. McGlade 

Virginia is hardly synony- 
mous with beefy northern 
pike. Not by any stretch of 
the imagination. However, Motts 
Run Reservoir, a 160-acre lake in 
Fredericksburg, holds the current 
state-record pike at an impressive 31 
pounds, 4 ounces. George Wood's 
record pike has held its ground since 
July 24, 1994. 

Pike family fish were once con- 
sidered species of the North, but 
wider distribution throughout 
many southern states has enabled 
Virginia anglers to capitalize on 
these wily predators. These "cold- 
water" species can flourish, and in 
fact can grow to enormous sizes. 
Northern pike weighing 6 pounds or 
measuring 30 inches in length quali- 
fy for a trophy fish certificate from 
theDGIF. 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




HAND* I -'CAP 

WATER VIEW 

FISHING PIER 




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,~ ~>. in ■■ J 111 1 III l, ■ ■ I II IIIUU 

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f/7e concession (L) at Motts Run Reservoir rents boats and equipment. Shore-bound angters can also 
take advantage of a roomy fishing pier. 



©Marc N. McGlade 



Located in Spotsylvania County, 
Motts Run Reservoir supplies fresh 
water to the city of Fredericksburg. It 
is a steep-sided lake that is normally 
quiet and receives light fishing pres- 
sure. The shoreline is undeveloped, 
making it one of the more scenic lakes 
in the northern tier of the Common- 
wealth. 

Northern pike (Esox lucius) have 
light oval rings lying on top of a dark 
background. Their moniker is "jack," 
or "jackfish," a regional name in Vir- 
ginia and the rest of the South. Chain 
pickerel also sport this nickname. 

During spring and fall, northern 
pike habitat consists of shallow- 
water areas. The fish shows an affini- 
ty for weedbeds, similar to the other 
species within the pike family. In hot 
weather, they prefer deeper water, es- 
pecially near drop-offs and ledges. 



According to biologists, northern 
pike feed on other fish, including 
minnows of all sizes, suckers, shad, 
and yellow perch. Pike also chomp 
on frogs, salamanders, worms, in- 
sects, mice, muskrats, snakes, duck- 
lings, other birds, and any other ter- 
restrial animal that makes the mis- 
take of traipsing into the water. 

More to Motts 
than Pike 

John Odenkirk, a fisheries biologist 
with the Department, agreed that it's 
tough to understand why Motts pro- 
duced the state-record northern pike, 
as one does not usually think of reser- 
voirs in Virginia — especially North- 
ern Virginia — as being particularly 
good habitats for a fish normally as- 
sociated with natural lakes in more 
northern climates. 




AUGUST 2009 



21 



"However, habitat at Motts does 
lean somewhat towards this 
species," Odenkirk explained. 
"There is some emergent shoreline 
vegetation (primarily water willow), 
the lake is very clear and deep, and it 
stays relatively cool even during 
summer months. In fact, some water 
quality profiles have shown decent 
oxygen and cool temperatures down 
around the thermocline (which may 
be 20 to 30 feet in summer). We also 
stock relatively few fish (2 per acre), 
so the overall abundance is not high." 

This allows fish that survive to 
enjoy reduced competition for food 
and habitat, and potentially reach 
trophy proportions (similar to Lake 
Orange's white bass). 

"And, there just may have been a 
bit of luck involved," Odenkirk said. 

Could another state-record fish be 
swimming in the reservoir, regard- 
less of the species? 




The reservoir is tucked away in a beautiful setting in Fredericksburg. 
Below: Scott Stovall hefts a nice largemouth he caught on a crankbait. 




"One never knows for sure," the 
biologist replied. "My guess is that if 
Motts were to produce another 
record it would be a northern pike be- 
cause it has already demonstrated 
the potential, and we have not 
changed management since. Large- 
mouth bass tend to run large in 
Motts, primarily due to good habitat, 
forage, and a high percentage of 
Florida alleles in the genetic compo- 
sition of the population." 

Odenkirk said Motts Run Reser- 
voir also offers excellent largemouth 
bass and channel catfish angling, 
along with good black crappie, 
bluegill, and redear sunfish potential. 
Northern pike are not the main draw 
here — the majority of anglers target 
bass followed by crappie, sunfish, 
and catfish. He says anglers actively 
seeking northern pike are a very 
small percentage of lake users (less 
than 1 percent). 

The biologist had the privilege 
of certifying the catch and was con- 
cerned the fish may have been a tiger 
musky left over from previous 
stockings. 

"I took extra time while examin- 
ing the fish to be sure to eliminate this 
as a possibility and ensure that the 
trophy was indeed a pure northern," 



22 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



he explained. "Also, I recall that the 
angler caught the record while 
fishing for catfish in the vicinity of the 
dam while bottom fishing with chick- 
en livers. While I cannot swear this 
is a factual account of the catch, it is 
sure to make traditional northern 
anglers groan." 

Odenkirk shared an interesting 
tidbit regarding what might not have 
been. He related that another biolo- 
gist working the lake with him at 
the time had scheduled a termination 
of northern pike stocking in Motts 
due to projected cutbacks in hatchery 
production. 

"Esocids, the family of fish that 
musky and pike belong to, are about 
the most expensive fish to raise," he 
said. "Before the revised stocking re- 
quest was submitted, the record was 
caught. We reconsidered, as it did not 
seem appropriate to 'cut' a lake that 
produced a state record." 

A Little Help 
Goes a Long Way 

Odenkirk acknowledged that part- 
nerships are key for successful fish- 
eries management. For instance, he 
credits one of the city's long-standing 
workers for his dedication to provid- 
ing a quality concession for anglers. 

"The state's relationship with the 
city and cooperative management of 
the resource has benefited anglers," 
he emphasized. "Don Minor, who 
works for the city, has been a tireless 
advocate in promoting the fishery 
and enhancing public access." 

Minor is quick to point out that 
none of the enhancements to the con- 
cession or other building structures 
would have been possible without 
the work of Bud Kane, a special 
projects supervisor with the City of 
Fredericksburg. 

"He has been a huge help to us," 
Minor added. 

Get While the 
Gettin's Good 

Since 1974, Motts Run Reservoir has 
been a scenic lake filled with hungry 
fish, just waiting to chow down on an 
angler's offering. Motts Run is per- 
fect for a family trip, to introduce a 

AUGUST 2009 




Motts Run is an excellent place for anglers to target a variety of species. 



youngster to the wonders of angling, 
or even for the experienced freshwa- 
ter enthusiast. Come visit this Freder- 
icksburg gem. Maybe you could be in 
the record books as the next state- 
record holder. □ 

Marc N. McGlade is a writer and photographer 
from Midlothian who enjoys Virginia's serene 
fishing locations, such as Motts Run Reservoir. 

More on Motts Run 

• For fisheries information and reg- 
ulations regarding Motts Run 
Reservoir, contact the Depart- 
ment's Region 5 office in Freder- 
icksburg at (540) 899-4169. For 
even more information, visit on- 
line at www.HuntFishVA.com. 

• Motts Run Reservoir is a trolling 
motor-only lake; therefore, the 
use of gasoline engines is strictly 
prohibited. 

• Facilities and amenities include a 
concession building, portable 
toilets, picnic tables, new fishing 



piers, boat rentals, a nature 
center, and hiking trails. 

• A newly renovated boat ramp and 
rental concession, operated by the 
city's Department of Parks, Recre- 
ation and Public Facilities, opens 
April 1 and closes October 31 each 
year. To contact the concession at 
the lake, phone (540) 786-8989, or 
call the Department of Parks at 
(540)372-1086. 

• Daily or seasonal permits are re- 
quired and available from the con- 
cession. 

• To reach Motts Run Reservoir, take 
Interstate 95 to Exit 130 B (west). 
Continue on Route 3 (Plank Road) 
approximately 0.5 miles, then turn 
right on Route 639 (Bragg Road) 
and go one mile to River Road. 
Turn left on Route 618 (River 
Road), and then proceed 2.5 miles 
along the river past a canoe outfit- 
ter. The entrance to the lake is past 
the crest of the steep hill on the left- 
hand side of River Road. 

23 



Amazing Journeys 







.tuAu 



Red Knot 



story and illustrations 
by Spike Knuth 



Bird Migrations 

The migrations of birds have 
attracted our attention since 
ancient times. In his book, Mi- 
grations of Birds, French ornithologist 
Jean Dorst remarked, "Since the 
dawn of history mankind has been 
fascinated by the disappearance and 
return of birds and has invented 
countless legends and theories to ac- 
count for them." He added, "Many 

24 



birds perform flights that disregard 
all the laws of human logic." To this 
day, bird migration is still regarded as 
a mystery. Some birds migrate with 
amazing consistency; others, over 
tremendously long distances. Some 
migrate vertically up and down 
mountains; some wander in search of 
better food conditions or to avoid bad 
weather; some don't migrate at all. 
Different routes are used for spring 
and fall migrations, and frequently, 
young-of-the-year travel different 
routes than the adults — often migrat- 
ing ahead of the pack to a place 
they've never been to! 



Even though September is regard- 
ed as the month that bird migrations 
really get into full swing, many birds 
begin their southerly migrations as 
early as August. It may still be hot 
and humid in late summer, but birds 
are instinctively aware of a changing 
season, especially as daylight hours 
shorten. Breeding season is over; 
adults are just coming out of 
molt; and the young have swelled 
populations of all species. Young and 
adult are involved mostly with eat- 
ing to build up body fat — the fuel 
needed for their upcoming, arduous 
journeys. 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



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By early August many purple 
martins have already left for Mexico 
and Central America, following the 
eastern Gulf coast land masses that 
provide the insects needed to sustain 
their travels. Late August often 
brings those first cool fronts that stir 
early migrants into action, causing 
them to gather at traditional staging 
areas until, finally, that mysterious in- 
ternal clock sends each species south- 
ward at their "appointed" times. 

Of the hundreds of migratory 
birds, there are about 35 that do 
something a little special. These are 
the long-distance migrants that win- 
ter far south of the equator in 
Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Brazil, and Ar- 
gentina. They include barn and cliff 
swallows, nighthawks, blackpoll 
warblers, scarlet tanagers, Swain- 
son's thrushes, osprey, and broad- 
winged hawks. The others are 19-20 
various species of shorebirds and 
terns. Shorebirds are the first to mi- 
grate and travel the longest routes; 
yet, go relatively unnoticed. Actually 
they had gathered along rivers, lake 
shores, marshes, and beaches in July 
and have already departed on their 
spectacular long journeys. 

They travel over water from east- 
ern United States and Canada to 
northern South America, some- 
times over Bermuda and the 
West Indies, then deeper into the 
South American continent. Among 
them are semi-palmated, white- 
rumped, Baird's and least sand- 
pipers, sanderlings, greater yel- 
lowlegs, golden and black-bellied 
plovers, red knots, ruddy turnstones, 
whimbrels, and Hudsonian godwits. 
Red knots will fly over 8,000 miles 
from Baffin Islands in the Arctic, to 
Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. Some 
semi-palmated sandpipers will fly 
from their Arctic breeding grounds to 
southern Brazil. One semi-palmated 
flew 2,800 miles from Massachusetts 
to Guyana, South America, in only 
four days. Ruddy turnstones have 
been recorded flying 2,000 miles in 80 

AUGUST 2009 



hours, non-stop. Golden and black- 
bellied plovers will fly 2,000 miles in 
a single flight. They will ultimately 
end up in Brazil and Peru. Seldom 
will we see a golden plover, but the 
black-bellied may stop off briefly in 
the grassy fields and croplands of the 
Eastern Shore. 



Arctic terns are probably the 
champion long-distance fliers. Some 
nest above the Arctic Circle, some 
within 500 miles of the North Pole. 
After their young have grown, about 
the end of August they begin an 
amazing flight of some 11,000 to 
12,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean 
to the Antarctic, with no landmarks 




Scarlet Tanagers 



25 



to follow. They are rarely seen this far 
south on the coast. Then, come spring 
in the Northern Hemisphere, they re- 
turn 11,000-plus miles to the Arctic to 
breed. One Arctic tern banded in 
North Wales, UK, traveled 11,195 
miles! Another, banded in Russia, 
was recovered in Australia — a jour- 
ney of 13,950 miles if it followed the 
usual coastal routes. 

Many songbirds or passerines 
also make fantastic flights. The tiny 
ruby-throated hummingbird that is 
bulking up on nectar and insects 
from jewelweed along a Virginia 
stream in late August will soon head 
for the Gulf coast, then fly non-stop 
for 26 hours and cover 600 to 1,000 
miles over the Gulf of Mexico. The 





Monarch Butterfly 



little blackpoll warbler that nested in 
a coniferous forest as far north as the 
tree line in Canada will fly east- 
southeast to the Maritime Provinces 
and New England. From here they 
make a non-stop flight of up to 120 
hours over the South Atlantic or Gulf 
of Mexico to their wintering grounds 
in the Amazon Basin. 

Waterfowl Migrations 

Waterfowl also make some long-dis- 
tance journeys and follow some un- 
usual routes. Generally speaking, 
birds fly north in spring and south in 
fall, but there are some unusual 
twists. Many waterfowl fly east- 
southeast from the Canadian prairies 
to the Chesapeake Bay. Canvasbacks, 
mallards, redheads, and tundra 
swans are prime examples. Red- 
heads for example, may migrate 
from the Bear River marshes of Utah 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




Loggerhead Turtle 



in a northeasterly direction to North 
Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba. 
Here they join up with Canadian 
nesting redheads and then fly either 
south to the Gulf or east to the 
Chesapeake. 

Some pintails that nest in Alaska 
fly to winter in Hawaii! A hunter 
killed a pintail in Mississippi in 2007 
that had a band reading "Japan" on it. 
It turned out that it was banded on 
Lake Hyoko in northwest Japan, 
6,700 miles from Mississippi. Blue- 
winged teal leave the marshes of the 
U.S. and Canadian prairies and Great 
Lakes area and fly almost non-stop to 
Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, 
and Brazil, some covering 3,800 miles 
in a month. One immature blue wing 
in late August covered 3,800 miles 
from the Athabasca Delta to Lake 
Maracaibo, Venezuela in one month, 
averaging 125 miles a day. Another, 

AUGUST 2009 



banded at Oak Lake, Manitoba, was 
recovered in Lima, Peru, some 4,000 
miles away. Some blue wings will fly 
eastward to New Brunswick, then 
over the middle and South Atlantic to 
South America. 

Other Migrations 

Not all of the incredible journeys are 
made by birds. Some are made by in- 
sects and fish. One of the most imagi- 
nation-defying migrations in our nat- 
ural world is not by a bird, but by the 
monarch butterfly. How such a frag- 
ile creature can battle the gusty winds 
of autumn is simply amazing. Great 
hordes of monarchs migrate south 
beginning in August and continue 
until freezing temperatures set in. 

Each spring millions of monarchs 
move north from their wintering 
grounds in central Mexico and south- 
ern California to their breeding 



grounds all over the northern hemi- 
sphere. Each generation continues on 
as far north as they can go, and the 
cycle is repeated — a sort of migra- 
tional relay. Several generations will 
end up making the northward flight 
to the final summer breeding 
grounds. The final generation of fe- 
male monarchs lay their tiny white 
eggs on the milkweed plant in early 
summer. In late summer, they 
emerge from a chrysalis, as a beauti- 
ful adult butterfly. This fourth gener- 
ation undergoes delayed sexual ma- 
turity and doesn't reproduce at this 
time. These are the "migraters" that 
will be relied on to carry the torch of 
survival back south, a distance of 
1,500 miles, to become the progeni- 
tors of the next generation. 

Over 200 species of fish have been 
recorded living in the Chesapeake 
Bay with about 80 percent of them 

27 




American Eel 



moving out of the bay in winter. 
Whether it is water temperature, 
daylight hours, position of the sun or 
stars, or following a food supply fish 
of many species move en masse to 
warmer waters. Cownose rays are a 
migratory species and are found in 
the Chesapeake Bay and along the 
Eastern Shore from May to October. 
They generally arrive in May and 
move up the western side of the bay, 
ultimately working down the eastern 
side as they leave in September-Octo- 
ber. They inhabit the coastal estuaries 
and mouths of large tidal rivers and 
creeks. With the coming of colder 
weather, rays begin migrating down 
the Carolina coasts and are often seen 
in schools varying from 5 or 10 up to 
several hundred. In one instance a 
Virginia Institute of Marine Science 
researcher recorded seeing a school 
that numbered "in the millions," 
with rays stacked in columns three 
or four feet deep at any one point. 
Other records have schools of up to 



10,000 traveling from Florida to the 
Yucatan, then to Trinidad, Venezuela, 
and Brazil. 

The American eel is one of the 
most abundant, yet mysterious, fish 
of eastern and central U.S. rivers. Eels 
are catadromous, as opposed to 
anadromous, creatures. That is, they 
migrate downriver to the sea to 
spawn rather than from the sea or 
lake to inland waters. This event 
takes place every autumn; adult fe- 
males migrate thousands of miles 
from as far inland as the upper Mis- 
sissippi River drainage to an area in 
the Atlantic Ocean north of the Ba- 
hamas known as the Sargasso Sea. 

Migrating eels overcome a variety 
of obstacles and are capable of crawl- 
ing or slithering over land: over and 
around dams, spillways, rip-rap- 
ping, and even through wet grass. It 
is thought that this ability to "taste" 
with its body aids the fish in finding 
its way to the spawning grounds — 
much like salmon can locate their 



natal stream. American eels are 
found along the East Coast from 
Greenland to the Gulf of Mexico; 
from the Caribbean to Venezuela; 
up the Mississippi River into the 
central United States; and through 
the St. Lawrence Seaway to the 
Great Lakes. □ 

Spike Knuth is an avid naturalist and wildlife 
artist. For over 30 years his artwork and uniting 
have appeared in Virginia Wildlife. He is a 
member of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Asso- 
ciation. 



Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! is a reg- 
ular feature that highlights Virginia's 
Wildlife Action Plan, which is designed 
to unite natural resources agencies, 
sportsmen and women, conservation- 
ists, and citizens in a common vision 
for the conservation of the Common- 
wealth's wildlife and habitats in which 
they live. To learn more or to become 
involved with this program visit: be- 
wildvirginia.org. 



28 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 




by Luke 



There are certain things we dogs 
just know. We know when you 
pick up a certain pair of pants, 
we are going hunting. We know that 
behind one door you keep the pills 
we have to take, and behind another 
door you have stashed our food. We 
know that when you finish your ice 
cream we get to lick the bowl. We 
know when we are in our kennel and 
you tell us "I'll be back," we are not 
going with you. We know where the 
bird really is, even if you saw it fall 
somewhere else. We know that bird is 
running on us, even though you are 
telling us to hunt dead. We know 
people come into and go out of your 
life, but if given the chance, we will 
always be there. Because we may be 
hunting together, I have put together 
some tips that hopefully will prolong 
our time together in the field. 

Don't put me in the back of a truck 
and drive me around without a se- 
cure restraint, unless you are willing 
to put your four-year-old back there 
and do the same. You and I could 
hunt longer if you watch our diets and 
get plenty of exercise. When hunting 
in different climates, be mindful of the 
temperature and weather conditions. 
Dogs may need just as much water if 
the air is cool and dry as they would, 
hot and dry. Lower humidity makes 
us thirsty too. 

After we have spent a day in the 
field, swamp, or duck blind, how 
about checking us out for cuts, or 

AUGUST 2009 



nicks on our feet, or seeds in our 
eyes? If we have gotten wet, make 
sure you spend some time drying us 
off before putting us out in our ken- 
nels on a cold night. 

It would also be a big help to us 
both if you rabbit hunters, bird shoot- 
ers, and goose getters, would spend 
some time at the skeet or sporting 
clay range over the summer, so you 
could actually hit what you shoot. 
The only thing more frustrating than 
running all over hill and dale chasing 
some tricky, double-backing-bunny, 
delivering him right to you and 
watching you fire a couple of salutes 
over his head, is to dive into ice cold 
water, swim 100 yards through a 
heavy chop, only to find a goose 
wing-tipped and more mad than 
dead. You try to swim back with 20 
pounds of fighting feathers in your 
mouth and see how much fun it is. 
And while we are on the subject, the 
next time you fuss at your bird dog 
for not sticking his nose in a bunch of 
briars so he can pick up some bird, or 
have your retriever swim in the 
Chesapeake Bay in the dead of win- 
ter, remember we dogs are doing this 
naked. 

Now that ought to put things in 
perspective. LI 

Luke, a black Labrador retriever, spends his 
spare time with best friend Clarke C. Jones 
hunting up good stories. You can visit 
Luke and Clarke on their Web site at 
ivima clarkecjoi ies.com. 




.. 



II hunters who plan to hunt 
doves, waterfowl, rails, 
woodcock, snipe, coots, gallinules, 
or moorhens in Virginia must be 
registered with the Virginia Har- 
vest Information Program (HIP). 
HIP is required each year and a 
new registration number is need- 
ed for the 2009-20 1 hunting sea- 
son. To obtain a new HIP number 
register online at www.VAHIP.com 
or call 1-888-788-9772. 

In addition, to hunt waterfowl 
in Virginia hunters must obtain a 
Federal Duck Stamp and the Vir- 
ginia Migratory Waterfowl Con- 
servation Stamp.The annual Migra- 
tory Waterfowl Conservation 
Stamp can be purchased for 
$10.00 (resident or non-resident) 
from VDGIF license agents or 
from the Department's Web site. 
To request collector stamps and 
prints, contact Mike Hinton by 
email at ducks@hintons.org. 






29 




Journal 



2009 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current infor- 
mation and registration on workshops go 
to the "Upcoming Events" page on our 
Web site at www.HuntFishVA.com or call 
804-367-7800. 

July 30, August 1 and 6: Lights, Cam- 
era, Action: Photographing Butterflies 
and Other Cool Bugs in the Garden; 
with Lynda Richardson; Lewis Gin- 
ter Botanical Garden, Richmond; 
www.lewisginter.org. 

August 7-9: Virginia Outdoor Sports- 
man Show, Richmond; www.sports 
manshow.com. 

August 14-16: Mother-Daughter Out- 
doors Weekend, Holiday Lake 4-H 
Center, Appomattox. 

August 25: Flat Out Catfish Workshop 
11, James River, Richmond. 

August 29: Ladies' Day Shooting 
(Handgun or Shotgun) Clinics, Cava- 
lier Rifle & Pistol Club; For reserva- 
tions call (804) 370-7565 or e-mail 
H. Baskerville@comcast.net. 

September 10, 12 and 17: Lights, Cam- 
era, Action: Photographing Colors, Tex- 
tures, and Patterns in the Garden; with 
Lynda Richardson; Lewis Ginter 
Botanical Garden, Richmond; 
www.lewisginter.org. 

September 12: Jakes Event; Page Val- 
ley Sportsman's Club; contact Art 
Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or email 
a rtkasson@yahoo.com . 

September 12-13: Western Regional 
Big Game Contest, www.iwla-rh.org. 

September 17-20: Eastern Shore Bird- 
ingand Wildlife Festival, Cape Charles. 

September 26-27: Eastern Regional 
Big Game Contest and State Champi- 
onship, www.vpsa.org. □ 

30 




QM 



by Beth Hester 



Wild River Guide to Coastal Waterways: 

From Corolla to Cape Henry, 

Number 3 in a Series 

by Lillie Gilbert and Vickie Shufer 

2007 Eco Images 

Phone: 757-421-3929 

Softcover with maps and illustrations 

This is not your ordinary outdoor 
guide, and though I know the phrase is 
hackneyed, this book is very much an 
'invitation to adventure'. It's an engag- 
ing and intimate portrait of the coastal 
waters along the Atlantic Flyway from 
Currituck Sound to the Lynnhaven 
River and its tributaries. With over 50 
years of combined paddling experi- 
ence, the authors make these valuable 
waterways come alive through local 
history, legend, and lore. There is al- 
ways something surprising around 
every bend. 



The same wild rice that nourished 
Native Americans can still be harvest- 
ed along portions of Back Bay. The eerie 
structural remnants of abandoned gun 
clubs decay within the shifting land- 
scapes of Wash Woods and Monkey Is- 
land; you can almost hear the plaintive 
duck calls of hunters long passed. And 
paddlers traveling through the interi- 
ors of Crystal Lake in Virginia Beach 
can catch a glimpse of Greystone 
Manor and the Frank Lloyd Wright-de- 
signed Hemicycle House. 

There is plenty of practical infor- 
mation for those who wish to explore 
the region, through detailed maps, in- 
formation on access points, city codes 
for the launching of watercraft, a good 
bibliography, and chapter sidebars 
containing facts about area plants and 
wildlife. The authors also provide 
handy technical tips gleaned from 
years of small craft navigation to help 
paddlers negotiate unexpected spills 
and sketchy tides. 

The Wild River Guide to Coastal Wa- 
terways is perfect for the armchair ad- 
venturer as well as for the seasoned 
paddler or angler. It's an example of 
guidebook writing at its very best. □ 




The winning artwork for the 2009-2010 Virginia Duck Stamp, painted by wildlife artist 
John Obolewicz, depicts a ring-necked duck arching up with outspread wings in the 
water. The watercolor was selected from seven entries by a team of judges, pictured here 
from left to right: Emily Pels, Virginia Wildlife magazine; Gary Costanzo, Migratory Game 
Bird Program Manager DGIF; Randy Pennifill, NVC Delta Waterfowl; Bob Duncan, 
Executive Director DGIF; Frank Wade, Waterfowl USA; Bev Crump, VA State Chapter of 
Ducks Unlimited; and Brad Puryear, Virginia Watefowlers Association. 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



Philmont 

by Mark Robinson 
Patrick Henry High School 

It's about 5:30 AM in Roanoke Regional 
Airport. A bunch of uniformed 
teenagers gather with oddly shaped, 
camouflage patterned laundry bags 
and nervous looking parents on either 
side. Suddenly, an average-sized, 
geeky looking man rushes in, tri- 
umphantly holding what appears to be 
a delectable chocolate chip cookie. The 
strange man raises the cookie into the 
air and slowly takes a large bite out of 
it. Was it the beginning of a two-week 
reign of terror on the western United 
States? Was it a tremendous endeavor 
of twelve men and boys to do what had 
never been done before? Or was it the 
beginning of one of those terribly trip- 
py science fiction novels that you just 
scratch your head after reading? The 
answer: all of the above. 

Turns out that the strange man 
with the cookie was just Mr. Don 
Sipher, fearless scoutmaster of Troop 
236 of southwest Roanoke County. The 
uniformed boys were boy scouts, the 
most (insert preferred adjective here) of 
all living creatures. The camouflage 
packages were their backpacks — the 
medium with which they would carry 
all their worldly belongings in the next 
twelve days. This was the beginning of 
the magical journey referred to by 
many as Philmont Scout Ranch. 

Soon after arriving on the ranch, 
the boys learned many useful skills, 
such as how to create a packline and 
where to find water in base camp. They 
met Ranger Wesley Johnson, the man 
who would hold their lives in hand for 
the next three days until suddenly bvit 
gently passing the responsibility back 
to the crew as a whole. The boys en- 
dured ranger training, learning the 



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Outdoor Report 



I T * I .•" ? ■& * 



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our Web site at www.HuntFishVA.com. 
Click on the Outdoor Report Link and 
simply fill in the required information. 



Philmont way of camping so as to 
avoid any bear maulings. 

Over the next few days, the scouts 
suffered the hard life of a Philmont 
hiker. They endured root beer from the 
tap at Abreu, team-building games, 
ghost stories, and blinding sunrises at 
Urraca, and scaled near vertical rock 
faces at Miner's Park. At Black Moun- 
tain, they became soldiers in the Amer- 
ican Civil War, where they learned to 
shoot rifles from that era. 

The boys' morale was lifted at 
Philips Junction, where a renewed food 
and water supply, as well as six or eight 
Toblerone chocolate bars apiece, 
helped to replenish their darkened 
spirits. At Crooked Creek, they braved 
the frontier as homesteaders, having to 
make candles to light their way in the 
dark New Mexico night and ward off 
ferocious predators like mountain lions 
and bears. Only luck and prayer kept 
them from being mauled. 

The next morning they visited 
Clear Creek, where they learned how 
to trap beaver, a skill that would come 
in handy over the next few days, as 
they wouldn't see water again for 48 
hours. This was the prelude to the con- 
quest of Philmont's second highest 
peak at 11,771 feet above sea level, 
Mount Philips. From the summit, the 
view was breathtaking. The entire 
range of the southern Rockies spanned 
before their very eyes: Baldy to the 
north, Angel Fire to the west; it was 
pure beauty. Well, at least until the 
thunderstorm hit, hurrying the crew 
off of the peak. Camp that night was 
made on neighboring Comanche Peak, 
where they experienced a beautiful 
sunset from chairs made of rocks. 

They began to descend. Down the 
ridge toward Sawmill, which held for 
them rifle shooting and a nice hot 
shower. They made their camp in 
Sawmill Canyon along a creek lined 
with tall aspens, the likes of which you 
only hear about in stories. In the morn- 
ing, they made their way down the 
canyon and across a ridge to Ute Gulch, 
where they restocked on food for the 
last time and enjoyed another 15 to 20 
Toblerone bars apiece. Their travels 
then took them through Hidden Valley 
and into Cimarroncito, one of the 
more famous camps at Philmont. Cito 
was the location of the group's conser- 
vation project. They were lumberjacks 
for the day, chopping and stacking 



downed wood as a means of forest 
fire regulation. 

The crew then made their way 
down to Hunting Lodge, where they 
enjoyed one of the finest evenings of 
scouting they would ever experience. 
Hunting Lodge offers cobbler dessert 
to crews who entertain them, whether 
it be through song, skit, story, or other 
means. This fine crew chose all three, 
and so did their sister crew, which 
turned it into a competition of sorts. 
Songs, skits, and the like were all per- 
formed masterfully by the best enter- 
tainers ever to visit northeastern New 
Mexico. The next day, a short hike 
brought them to Clark's Fork, where 
they would spend the subsequent 
hours occupying themselves with 
myriad activities ranging from chess to 
guitar and horseback riding to brand- 
ing irons before a chuck wagon dinner. 

Up and over Schaffer's Peak they 
went; and down the ridge to Tooth 
Ridge, where they set up camp for the 
last time on Philmont. They enjoyed 
the view from the camp and in the 
morning they visited the legendary 
Tooth of Time. It was a long six miles 
back to base camp, but they all made it, 
and the lives of the boys and the history 
of the troop had never been richer. □ 

Congratulations again to Mark Robinson, for 
this first-place winning entry in the high school 
writing competition sponsored by the Virginia 
Outdoor Writers Association. 




Commonwealth (/Virginia 

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 
LIFETIME 

ico-h 




Lifetime Licenses 

Open the door to a lifetime of enjoyment 

in the great outdoors of Virginia with a 

lifetime freshwater fishing, hunting 

or trout license! 

It's an investment that keeps on giving. 

For more information visit: 

httpyAvww.HuntFishVA.com/forms/ 
lifetime_Iicenses/instructions.html 

or call 1- (866) 721-6911 



AUGUST 2009 



31 




Jt was one of those hot summer 
nights where the heat and hu- 
midity could pull the life right out of 
you. The songs of crickets and tree 
frogs were disturbed only by the 
buzz of swarming mosquitoes. 

Suddenly I heard the sound of a 
microphone key-over VHF-FM 
channel 16 and what sounded like 
someone panting, followed by 
"MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY... 
Coast Guard. . . HELP, I have been hit 
by another boat. . . I need help!" 

As the radio watchstander took 
the information for the call, we all 
grabbed our gear bags and ran for 
the boat and immediately got 
underway, en route to the position of 
the accident. 

Many thoughts flooded my 
mind as we headed out. I thought of 
how bad the scene could be, what 
kind of injuries we may face, and 
what our steps would be to take con- 
trol of the situation. My mind raced 
as we responded, thinking that the 
short 20-minute transit to the scene 
seemed to take hours. 

The first thing we saw was a 25- 
foot inboard-outboard, workboat 
with a forward steering station, big 
open deck, and two seats on either 
side of the motor cover at the stern. 
The starboard side of the boat facing 
us was laid outward toward the wa- 
terline, and it was shattered and 
cracked. I noticed that the all-round 
white stern light was working along 
with the green bow light. At the stern 
of the boat a gentleman was 
crouched over a little, brown-haired 
girl and telling her everything would 
be okay. She didn't seem to be re- 
sponding although she was awake. 

I looked around and saw another 
boat accompanied by a local police 
boat. It appeared to be about a 16-foot 

32 



tri-hull with an outboard. I remem- 
ber the silhouette of two occupants, 
but couldn't make them out right 
away. I noticed that their navigation 
lights were out. I was sure that it was 
most likely the boat that struck the 
one I was with, but since they were 
being interviewed by the police, I 
dealt with the former boat. 

Once I felt it was safe to do so, I 
stepped on board with another team 
member and asked, "Captain are 
you okay?" 

He responded, "We are fine but 
something is wrong with her." He ex- 
plained that he was out for a cruise 
with his granddaughter and that 
they were struck broadside by anoth- 
er boat. He told me how he heard 
something and when he turned 
around to look, the other boat struck 
the port side of his boat, drove over 
and through it, and out the other 
side. He said it felt like slow motion, 
but they never slowed down. He 
explained that he was forward 
driving and his granddaughter was 
in the starboard aft seat next to the 
engine hatch. 

Miraculously, the other boat "t- 
boned" his boat at the beam and 
never touched the little girl or her 



grandfather. Neither of them had so 
much as a scratch. The little girl was 
simply in shock and traumatized by 
the event. They were both transport- 
ed to the local hospital for evaluation 
and later released with no injuries. 

The operator of the other boat 
was a 17-year-old boy out with his 
girlfriend. Both were consuming al- 
cohol and his Blood Alcohol Concen- 
tration (BAC) was .179% — over twice 
the legal limit to operate a boat. He 
spent the night in jail, followed by 
criminal charges filed by the state 
and civil penalties from the Coast 
Guard. He lost his privilege to oper- 
ate a boat for 2 years. 

Virginia law states that boat op- 
erators with a BAC of .08% or more 
shall be presumed to be under the in- 
fluence of alcohol. Virginia law also 
prohibits persons younger than 21 
from consuming alcohol and operat- 
ing a watercraft with any measurable 
alcohol level. 

Remember: Boat Smart, Boat 
Sober! You can have a good time on 
the water without alcohol. 



Tom Guess, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.), serves as a 
statewide coordinator for the Boating Safety Ed- 
ucation Program at the DGIF. 

VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



by Lynda Richardson 



Portable Hard Drives Can Save The Day 




On a recent trip to Africa I was able to back up my files to my Epson P-6000 and convenient- 
ly share my work with folks on the trip. I made this photograph black & white just for fun. The 
Epson normally shows everything in color. 



IJ ave you ever had that sinking 
If feeling on the road, when you 
realized that you forgot something 
important? You know, that pit in the 
stomach that suddenly radiates 
throughout your entire body? Well, 
that's how I felt when I realized I for- 
got to bring enough compact flash 
media cards on a recent shoot. What 
ultimately saved me was the fact that 
I did remember to bring my two 
portable hard drives. With those in 
hand, I didn't have to worry about 
more media cards. I could simply 
download my photographs to both 
the drives and my laptop and then re- 
format the cards I needed and keep 
on shooting. 

Some photographers will fill up 
all of their media cards and then wait 
to get home before downloading, or 
they will just download to their lap- 
tops. I think this is too risky! What 
happens if you lose or drop the cards 
or your laptop is stolen? By bringing 
portable hard drives along, your 
valuable images are safely stored in 
more than one place. 

There are many portable hard 
drives available, so please do some 

AUGUST 2009 



research before you buy. I discovered 
mine by asking fellow photogra- 
phers what they used. Many drives 
were suggested, but I eventually de- 
cided on the LaCie Rugged ALL Ter- 
rain Hard Disk External 250GB Hard 
Drive and the Epson P-6000 Multi- 
media Photo Viewer. 

The LaCie Rugged is a basic 250- 
gig hard drive with rubberized 
bumpers over an aluminum shell, 
which protect it. This hard drive 
comes in several different gig sizes as 
well as two versions; one having a 2.0 
USB interface only and the other fea- 
turing the 2.0 USB interface plus 
Firewire 400 & 800 capabilities. This 
is a hard drive that you attach to your 
computer for downloading. The 
most basic LaCie Rugged starts at 
around $100. 

Now the Epson P-6000 (80-gig 
hard drive) is my pride and joy. I 
LOVE that thing! Not only is it a 
portable hard drive, but compact 
flash and SD cards can be directly 
downloaded through slots on the top 
of the unit. It can run on a recharge- 
able battery, has a 4-inch LCD screen 
to view your images, and you can set 



up folders and edit on it!!! The only 
problem is these things aren't cheap; 
they start around $500. 

My advice to you is to make sure 
that you have at least one portable 
hard drive and a laptop with you to 
download to on every photo expedi- 
tion. It will give you peace of mind 
and you won't have to depend on 
bringing enough media cards! Now 
you just have to remember the hard 
drives! □ 

You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best photographs to "Image of the Month," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super high- 
quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or raw 
files on a disk and include a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope or other shipping method 
for return. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where you 
captured the image and what camera and set- 
tings you used, along with your phone num- 
ber. We look forward to seeing and sharing 
your work with our readers. 




Congratulations to Jeff Barker of Lynchburg 
for his delightful photograph of wild ponies 
sleeping on the Appalachian Trail at Mount 
Rogers National Recreation Area. Jeff and 
his 9-year-old son, Joseph, spotted the 
snoozing equines and snuck up on them 
for this shot. Awesome! Sony Cyber- 
shot DSC-W80 digital camera, ISO 320, 
1/3 20th, f 5. 2. 

33 





by Ken and Maria Perrotte 



Snakehead: It's What's for Dinner 



I I nless you fish the tributaries of the Potomac River, it 
U may be some time before a snakehead wallops your 
fishing lure. But even there, most of these toothy fish are 
caught incidental to fishing for largemouth bass. 

Then again, catching a snakehead isn't really perceived 
as an opportunity. 

This introduced fish is native to Asia. It resembles a 
bowfin, with a snakeskin pattern over its body and a tooth- 
filled head somewhat akin to that of a pike. It is impressive 
—a top dog predator— and biologists are still assessing how 
its introduction into Virginia waterways will affect other 
species that now must co-exist with the fish. 

Amid all the hoopla of recent years, one attribute has- 
n't gotten much play: Snakeheads are great to eat! In fact, 
prior to their stocking in the wild, they were most often 
sold as table fare in Asian fish markets. Their long bodies 
make for some impressive fillets of flaky, white meat. 

The stated policy of the Department is to not release 
any snakehead after it has been caught and to report catch- 
es to department fisheries biologists. So... transport the 
biggest specimens to the taxidermist and take your fillet 
knife to the small to mid-sized fish. 

Fisheries biologist John Odenkirk gave us a few fillets 
for some culinary experimentation— fish he caught during 
electrofishing sampling— and we cooked them three ways: 
baked, fried, and sauteed. 

Serve the fish up with a fresh green salad. Add some 
fries to the fried version for snakehead "fish and chips." A 
scoop of steamed white or wild rice with a side of fresh veg- 
etables also makes a nice accompaniment. 

Baked Pecan Encrusted Fillets 

2 medium snakehead fillets (6-10 ounces) 

Cooking spray (we used a store brand olive oil 
variety) 

1/4 cup crushed pecan pieces 

14 teaspoon ground allspice 

Salt and pepper to taste 

I/4 teaspoon sugar 

Yi teaspoon each orange and lime juices 

1-2 teaspoons butter or margarine 



Vz 



1 



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking dish with cook- 
ing spray to prevent sticking. Combine pecans and spices. 
Drizzle fillets with juices and dredge in pecan mixture. 
Place in baking dish; top with any remaining mixture and 
dot with butter. Bake until almost done— opaque in center 
(about 15-18 minutes depending on size). Finish for a 
minute or two in broiler, being careful not to burn pecan 
topping. 

Sauteed Snakehead 

2 medium fillets 

1 tablespoon butter or margarine 

tablespoon olive oil 

Lemon pepper seasoning (we used Lawry's) 

teaspoon lemon juice 
2-3 tablespoons dry white wine 

Lemon slices (optional-for garnish) 

Sprinkle fillets with lemon pepper seasoning. Heat butter 
and oil over medium high heat in skillet. Add fillets and 
brown on one side. Flip and brown other side. Add lemon 
juice and wine, cover skillet, and lower heat. Cook until fil- 
lets are opaque white and flaky. Remove fillets to serving 
dish; spoon residual pan liquids over top and garnish with 
lemon slices. 

(Healthy) Fried Snakehead 

2-4 fillets 

Cooking oil (canola or a mixture of canola 
and peanut oil) 

Your favorite breading (we like to mix House of 
Autry seafood breading with one of their spicier 
varieties) 

4 ounces milk 

Egg substitute (equivalent of one egg) 

Fill a cast iron or other frying pan with 1 Yi inches oil and 
heat over medium heat. Whip together milk and egg sub- 
stitute. Dip fillets in mixture and then dredge in breading 
and fry in hot oil. After cooking, place fillets on a plate with 
paper towels to absorb any excess oil. □ 



34 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



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The apprentice hunting license serves as a first- 
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